Efficiency and Effectiveness in Project Management

November 10, 2010

Of the hundreds of projects we work, the most common problem is the failure to meet expectations. We hear “this is not what I want” (customer); “but this is what you asked for” (supplier); “but this is not what I need”[1].
I was under the impression that project management is all above applying common sense to project work. “Common sense is not commonly practiced. I have also heard many people say that project management is nothing more than organized common sense. Maybe that’s why many projects fail. Common sense is just not applied. That may be one of the problems, but it isn’t just the lack of common sense that creates problems and in some cases causes failure; it’s a lack of the necessary combination of learned skills, common sense…”[2]. Good project management ensures the success of a project.
Project Management is all about efficiency and methodical process. To achieve efficiency we do need some methodical streamlined process, and to achieve effectiveness we do need definition of objective and its quality. We have simple ‘to do lists’ to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in project management. “Check them out, check them off and congratulate for well done.” [3].
Start out: Make sure that your customer specifies their requirements in detail and recognize exactly what it is that must be presented, to whom and under what circumstances. Make it proper, write it up orderly and get them to sign it off. This document will turn the ground upon which to evaluate success.
Customers: Engage customer to work with you as part of the team. Get them active in the analysis and preparation, as well as implementation. You don’t have to look for their approval, just keep them knowledgeable. The more you involve them, the greater their level of buy-in and the lighter it is to deal with their anticipations.
Team: Hire the finest people you can afford. Spend time to find the proper individuals. It will keep you time down the track. Good people are easily to motivate. Present them the visual sense and how they can make it materialize. Motivate and resolve conflicts between individual members of the team. Trust and believe in them. Let them feel appreciated. They will work fantastic.
Scope: Define goals and scope clearly; ensure that everyone on the team understands what is expected of them during the project. Just authorize modifications to your project scope if there is no affect on the timeline. Make your customers commendation to essential scope converts first and then have their buy-in to expand the deliverance dates if you want to.
Communication: Pass the information at proper time and make sure you let everyone educated. Formalize your status calls with the customer. Create Weekly Condition Reports and lead frequent team conferences. Use Project Management Templates to spare you time.
Milestones: Set milestones for smaller steps. By doing this you will focus on short term goals for delivery- provided keep the long term objectives in mind. Separate your project time frame into “Milestones” which are attainable parts of job. Put delivery deadlines to your milestones and try to deliver on each deadline, no matter what. If you’re late, utter to your customer about it as earlier as possible.
Time frames: Keep your delivery time frames low and realistic. Never correspond to long time frames. Separate the project into “mini-projects” if you need to. Keep all mini-projects to less than 6 months. This keeps everybody motivated and concentrated.
Deliverables: The ultimate measure of a successful project is deliverables. A project is usually broken down into several deliverables, as each deliverable is through; deliver it formally over to your customer. Get them to sign an Acceptance Form to say that it meets their expectations. Only then can you check every deliverable off as 100% complete.
Quality: It means meeting or exceeding customer expectations at a cost that represents a value to customer. Whether it is project quality or deliverables quality, there should have some form of quality check list. Continue the quality of your deliverables as higher as possible. Forever reexamine quality and never let it slip. Implement “peer surveys” so that team members can survey each other’s deliverables. Then put in place external surveys to ensure that the quality of the solution fills your customer’s wants.
Risk: Work on the risks areas and issues as soon as they are identified. Prioritize and resolve them before they impact on your project. Revisit them often. Take pride in keeping hazards and issues to a minimal [4].

No matter what, stick with the Project Management processes in order to stay the course and keep both the customer happy and team engaged. Project success is much more likely if you follow a proven process and utilize efficient and effective communication and mixing in interesting technology.

By: Vishnu Thogaripally

References:
1. http://www.bcs.org
2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People author Dr. Steven Covey 3. http://www.gantthead.com/checklists/
4. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Your-Business-Project-a-Success 5. http://www.stellman-greene.com/aspm/
6. http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file40647.pdf
7. http://projectmanagementblog.com
8. http://www.maxwideman.com/

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One Response to “Efficiency and Effectiveness in Project Management”

  1. Paul McGuire said

    I believe Project Management is a lot about applying common sense with extreme levels of communication. Communication at all levels is crucial to proper project execution and ultimately, will go a long way towards success. I would also advise against scope modifications unless they do not add to the schedule (as you mention) but also don’t add to the budget and don’t add risk and uncertainty.

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